Monday, July 20, 2009

Hometown Heros

I was out with a friend a few weeks ago, checking out the ghost town that is James St. N on a Monday afternoon. Besides choosing one of the worst days to cross stitch along James St., it was worth it, because even when the galleries aren't open, the street still hums with action.

Us being desperate to look at anything on paper, I found myself shyly edging into The Assembly, in hopes that we could still catch a show. What I found was a room of bare walls, and a very humble Mark Byk keeping the place warm. He let us look at the only remnants of what we sought (a single print left behind) but more importantly, he let us know about Ampersand Ampersand.Whenever I get one of those business cards that promote artists I almost always dismiss whoever is on the giving end of it. This is rude. I can't say that I was not rolling my eyes when I put the bare looking card in my wallet, but I can say that I am glad it ended up there.

Mark Byk and Kristine Tortora who occupy both the name Ampersand Ampersand and The Assembly, are two graphic designers that impress me every time I see one of their posters. I'm overjoyed to see such strong work come from designers who choose to call Hamilton their home. It is great to see posters on the street that don't share the same polluted aesthetic that goes into the usual event bill.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Design Crush

Whilst researching for a paper for my 'Matter of Technology' class last term I heard a statistic that states about 2/3 of the sites you randomly browse you've already been to. If that's true how have I never been to FromKeetra before?
I've seen her stuff a lot. I discovered today that it's everywhere- she's been featured multiple times on BOOOOOOOM!, core77, notcot, and FFFFound!. At first glance I thought it was good but this morning after seeing an intriguing photo I delved deeper into her work. Now I have the biggest design crush on Keetra Dean Dixon.

Her work is quirky, thought provoking, and well just plain good. I can't find much about her seeing as she's fairly young and new on the scene but what I do know is this. She works out of New York, got her BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design and her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. For her thesis project, Keetra made a photobooth that analyses peoples pictures and overlays them with patterns and words:
I was looking for a light hearted, experiential based tradition with a standardized ritual tied to an individuals public persona. Ideally the booth is displayed in a semi public areas - malls, boardwalks, carnivals etc. The booth holds no denotation of it's unique qualities. Users enter the booth, pose for 2 shots & exit as usual. During the developing process, the photos are "analyzed" & customized with forecasts consisting of patterns, symbols & messages - the resulting portrait presents an unexpected interference over a traditional photobooth image
In her portfolio it is evident that all of Keetra's projects are approached with a similar sense of playful reflection. It's just so great.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do you appreciate the subtleties of taste?

If you're in or have ever been involved in art (or anything creative) you know it can be really discouraging. Why is it discouraging? Well I recently watched an interview with Ira Glass (host of radio show This American Life) and he describes the problem so well. He talks about how people get into any creative discipline because of passion and taste. It seems taste has everything to do with your development as an artist.
The problem is, as an artist you have awesome taste and great vision but sometimes your abilities are not developed enough to be able to execute it the way you want. It's something you have to work on and develop- and that can take a long time. This is why so many creative people get discouraged, they know what they want, they have great taste and vision but don't know why they can't produce what they want to. Most of the time they are conscious that what they make is not what they want to be making, and a lot of people give up.

The only real way to get where you want to be is by practicing and doing. A lot. This in itself is a paradox, you hate what you make so you don't want to make more but you have to make more to like what you want. It's a vicious cycle. Personally, I'm finally seeing bits and pieces of things I produce that I like, I mean really like. It's a challenge to drive yourself to keep making when the results are mediocre at best but it is the best thing to do.
Anyhow, thanks Ira, I think most people go through this and don't realise that it is SO common and normal. I think it's advice everyone should hear (look where it got Ira!) Have you been stuck in this rut? How do you overcome it?